What a great time to launch the Spring 2015 “Reclaim Is…” seminar. A week ago the world’s wealthiest man, Bill Gates, premiered a video where he can be seen drinking treated effluent from a pilot wastewater treatment plant in Seattle. The two minute video of the Omniprocessor, a project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has received over 2 million hits on YouTube since its’ January 5th, 2015 release. With “poop to potable“, media outlets call him a “true hero” for investing in solutions to bring safe sanitation and drinking water to the 2.5 billion and ~750,000 that lack access respectively. In an NPR story on the water made from poop topic, Dick Luthy, Professor of Environmental Engineering at Stanford University, said that after all of the wastewater treatment steps used by Orange County, CA, the effluent “water is essentially safe to drink.” Rather than use that effluent as direct potable supply, the treated effluent is pumped into the ground where, according to Luthy, it “mixes with ground water for a few months — maybe six — before it’s pumped out.”
For the inaugural “Golden Toilet Awards” from the 2014 PIRE seminar, Robert Bair and Onur Ozcan, graduate students of environmental engineering at USF, won the award for best video with their 11 minute piece entitled, “Case Study: Nutrient Management and Water Reuse in Tampa Bay”. That USF Reclaim video describes some of the unique ways in which the Tampa Bay Area manages its nutrients and practices water reuse. This year, students enrolled in “Reclaim Is…” have to make videos that are under 5 minutes long and that demonstrate how effective, geographically‐appropriate and culturally relevant strategies integrate social, engineered, and environmental systems for sustainable management of water, energy, and nutrients. Before making their individual videos, we will dedicate the first two weeks of the seminar to exploring effective strategies used by others in presenting this kind of material.
The first “Reclaim Is…” assignment requires that you look at Gates’ Omniprocessor video as well as that of Bair/Ozcan. On the latter’s YouTube page (i.e. the Tampa Bay case study), you should reply to the following questions that are posted there:
1) This case study provides some good examples of how various people in Tampa Bay are managing nutrients and promoting water reuse. Can you provide an example that you know of that also does this? Summarize how they manage nutrients and/or promote water reuse. Include things like scale (e.g. personal, office, etc.) and geographic location. Don’t include any information that would give the personal information of anyone you discuss. Feel free to write about something that you do if it is appropriate.
2) The Howard F. Curren Advanced Wastewater Treatment plant provides reclaimed water to some Tampa Bay residents. They use it for irrigation. Bill Gates is backing the Janicki Omniprocessor and has been seen on video drinking water directly from the pilot system that treats sewage sludge. What are your thoughts on how reclaimed water from both of these wastewater treatment systems is being used? Think of your answers in terms of water, energy and nutrients.
3) What recommendations do you have for us to improve this video?